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Uncommon Gratitude (Book) Joan Chittister & Rowan Williams | Joan Chittister Books

Uncommon Gratitude (Book Image) Chittister & Williams
Uncommon Gratitude (Book) Chittister & Williams
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Title: Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia For All That Is
Format: Book
Author: Joan Chittister, OSB and Rowan Williams
Pages: 193
Condition: New
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Uncommon Gratitude:
Alleluia For All That Is

Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams

Hardcover 193 pp.

In Uncommon Gratitude, Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, offer a wealth of life experiences to be grateful for — things for which we can sing “Alleluia.”

These include: God, peace, wealth, life, faith, and unity. But also death, divisions, sufferings, and even sinners.

As Joan Chittister says in her introduction, “Life itself is an exercise in learning to sing ‘Alleluia’ here in order to recognize the face of God hidden in the recesses of time. To deal with the meaning of ‘Alleluia’ in life means to deal with moments that do not feel like ‘Aleluia moments’ at all.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams often says that, no matter what, the proper stance of the Christian in the world is one of gratitude. In this book, Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, and Archbishop Rowan Williams offer us a sweeping set of things and circumstances to be grateful for—things for which we can sing "alleluia," "praise and thanks be to God."

Some are things we naturally feel grateful for: God, peace, wealth, life, faith, and unity. But when these are set alongside other things we would never think to sing alleluia about—death, divisions, sufferings, and even sinners—we begin to see, as Joan Chittister says in her introduction, that "Life itself is an exercise in learning to sing ‘alleluia’ here in order to recognize the face of God hidden in the recesses of time. To deal with the meaning of ‘alleluia’ in life means to deal with moments that do not feel like 'alleluia moments' at all."

In this series of reflections it becomes clear that singing "alleluia" is not a way to escape reality but receptivity to another kind of reality beyond the immediate and the delusional, of helping us understand what is now and what is to come.



Discovering What We Are


Becoming Who We Are


Growing Into The Unknown


Excerpt from the Introduction by Joan Chittister:

Someplace along the way, in the early years of my growing up, I heard someone explain that people who went to heaven would sit at the throne of God and sing “Alleluia” all day long. “Oh, no,” I groaned inwardly. At that moment, heaven, however important it remained in my young mind, lost some of its immediacy, if not some of its luster.

Then, I grew up and realized the import of what it might really mean to be able to sing alleluia all day long, every day of your life. The very thought of it spun my world in an audacious new direction. What if life itself was meant to be one long alleluia moment? Here, indeed, resided the real meaning, the real hope, of life. But was it possible?

Years passed, however, before Archbishop Rowan Williams and I found ourselves agreeing to write a book together. We were both clearly marked by a monastic mindset that valued reflection above all else in the marketplace of spiritualities. Both of us took ideas as seriously as we took footnotes. God, we knew, was a mystery in which we lived every moment of every day. The only question is, How? What kind of a God is this God we seek?

Finally, I asked him directly, “What really interests you most about the spiritual life?” He paused a moment. “I find myself coming back again and again,” he said, “to the meaning of ‘alleluia.’”

And then we were off. It took two days of thinking together in the archbishop’s London office at Lambeth Palace to find our way through to what we were both saying in slightly different accents: Life itself is an exercise in learning to sing alleluia here in order to recognize the face of God hidden in the recesses of time. To deal with the meaning of alleluia in life means to deal with moments that do not feel like alleluia moments at all. But how is it possible to say alleluia to the parts of life that weigh us down, that drain our spirits dry, that seem to deserve anything but praise?

The question is a worthy one. Life, after all, is a struggle, a journey in uncharted space, an exercise in both gain and loss, joy and sorrow. No life consists of nothing but success and satisfaction, security and self-gratification. Failure and disappointment, loss and pain are natural parts of the human equation. Then what? What use is an alleluia then, except perhaps to encourage some kind of emotionally unhealthy self-deception?

But alleluia is not a substitute for reality. It is simply the awareness of another whole kind of reality — beyond the immediate, beyond the delusional, beyond the instant perception of things.

 One of the oldest anthems of the church, alleluia means simply “All hail to the One who is.” It is the arch hymn of praise, the ultimate expression of thanksgiving, the pinnacle of triumph, the acme of human joy. It says that God is Good — and we know it.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word is an injunction to praise, a call to the people to summon up praise in themselves. It is a challenge to see in life more than is seeable in any single moment and to trust it.

In the Christian Scriptures it is a formula of praise. Most of all, it is an intensely emotional response that, in early liturgical use, was said the entire year, as it still is in the Eastern Church, even in liturgies for the dead. In the most ancient part of the Christian tradition, then, it calls us to see all of life as life-giving, somehow, in some way, whether its present gifting is apparent or not.

This book sees alleluia as a call to reflection, as the basis of contemplation, the final “Amen” to all that is, at whatever its cost to us now.

It is an alleluia view of every present moment, a view that welcomes its complexity and subjects it to the more lasting view, the long view, of life.

To that, alleluia.

Joan Chittister, OSB, is a Benedictine nun and international lecturer who has been a leading voice in spirituality for more than thirty years. She has authored forty books.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar, and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical, and educational commissions and has written extensively across a wide range of fields of professional study – philosophy, theology, spirituality, and religious aesthetics. He has also written on moral, ethical, and social topics and, since becoming archbishop, has focused more intently on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.

Praise for Uncommon Gratitude:

"A soul stretching book by two contemporary prophets. Alleluia for Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams for this inspiring and timely message of hope in the midst of so much fear and violence. A faith filled and prophetic perspective on the dark and hurting spaces in our world and lives. We are both invited and challenged to pick up our pieces, dry our tears, shake ourselves down, and continue the journey with renewed hope and joy. Alleluia indeed."

-Edwina Gateley
Poet, writer, international speaker, and women’s advocate
"What does it mean to be a Christian? In Uncommon Gratitude, two persons formed by monastic prayer practices (and incidentally respected theologians) reach across denominational lines to form a common understanding of a ‘life of alleluia.’ Without sentimentality or triviality, Chittister and Williams show how one can realistically offer praise and wonder in the face of the often uncertain or discouraging circumstances of ordinary life. These reflections are rooted in the conviction that God is good, and all of life—including doubt, death, conflict, wealth—is life-giving. Suffering, for example, calls us to a new way of being, is the ground of compassion, and moves us beyond our smaller, less developed selves. Darkness reveals that all growth does not place in the sunlight, and God works in our vulnerability and lack of control. These are challenging and not comforting reflections, resting in study of the surprising God revealed in Genesis, and the Exodus vision of a community built on mutual trust. The depth offered here invites the reader to slow and reflective response, allowing time for this wisdom to take root in the soul."
-Dr. Norvene Vest

"One finishes this book with renewed gratitude—for faith and doubt, for all that is, for two wise spiritual teachers who remind us that God is present not just in the peak experiences, but in the hidden depths of our everyday life."
-Robert Ellsberg

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